Thursday, December 22, 2011

Sometimes You Have To Start With The Ghost


So December has been a bit of an exercise in despair writing wise.

I backed up my deadline to allow me to finish writing "The Dance of the Ancients", but I had also discovered that a story I intended to put in the anthology didn't really count as a ghost story. So there I sat, still a story short. I wracked my brains for a new story, but everything I came up with either seemed trite, forced, or to be blunt...it plain sucked.

It just wasn't working.

Then I remembered how I came up with the story for "A Long Cold Forever of a Night". I started with my ghost, or in that case the photo of the ghost on the cover of the anthology, then built my story around her. So I got out my photo editor, went to old photos from the dust bowl because I knew they would be in the public domain, and started making ghosts. I figured that since it worked once, it was worth trying again. And sure enough, after playing around a little while I finally struck paydirt.

The one in the picture above is the one that inspired a story.

He doesn't have a name yet, but he has a story...now I just have to write it. I still need to work out details such as names of people and places, and a few plot elements, but I already have the general arc of the story in mind. And since this story just hit me about an hour ago, I guess I'm going to count it as a Christmas present from my muse. The lazy little bimbo will now probably take a vacation for the rest of the year, knowing her.

But the important thing is I have story...

...I just have to write it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Wall



Seven ghost stories have been written, only one remains until I can pronounce the anthology complete and go into full editing and publishing mode.

So naturally my muse has jumped a bus to Cancun....

This is a problem I have started to notice, and wonder if its just coincidence...just me...or a problem that other writers run into. I'm going to call it the "Almost Finished Paralysis".

I get a project about eighty percent done, and then suddenly it gets difficult to impossible. I have a ninety thousand word novel at about seventy thousand words. I have another novel that should be about a hundred and twenty thousand words at about ninety thousand words. And now I have an eight story anthology at seven stories...and just like the two novels I suddenly find myself running into all kinds of resistance.

Do any of you other writers out there ever face this phenomenon? 

This is really irritating!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Life Outside of Writing

While I have been productive as of late, being a househusband and a Dad demand much of a my time and attention as well. Of course, it occurs to me that kiddos may be trainable....



Not bad, eh?

Of course with my luck, I'll get the girl trained all right and proper and some nosey jerk of a handsome prince will show up and cart her off to his castle. How is that fair? I do all the training and HE gets his floors scrubbed!

Oh well, I'm going to make a major push at writing over the upcoming weekend and we'll see how that works out. And while I'm at it, maybe I can teach the girl to do laundry :D

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Waffles R Us



So, I'm going to waffle on my deadline.

I had set Dec 1st as the deadline to get stories in on the Shades series. As it turns out, I have written three in the past month and a half, and I'm working on a fourth one. With that kind of progress happening, I can back up the deadline.

Besides, I now have a real vision of the way I want the anthology to be, and I'm even starting to contemplate the forward for it. I want it to be nothing but ghost stories. Good ghost stories. So I'm going to to take the extra time to get that done. The bonus to that, is each non ghost story that gets bumped out of this anthology, counts as a head start on the final count of stories in the next non-ghost story anthology. So that's a win too.

Anyways. I'm working hard and making progress. So I'm happy.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Hammering the Keys.



I'm going to pull a marathon writing session this weekend. The idea is to try and finish the ghost story I'm currently working on, and maybe even the one I shelved earlier this week. I've just come up with a good ending to the current one, so that bodes well. Things always flow faster when I have a solid picture of the destination. The other one still is hazy on the ending part, which was slowing me down so I jumped to writing the current one.

But even if I finish them both, I suddenly face an unforeseen problem. Or at least unforeseen because I didn't stop and take strict account of what I had written.

I had forgotten that one of the ghost stories I had already intended to include in the Shades anthology wasn't really a ghost story. It was something else that happened to come across as a supernatural phenomenom to the main character until she figured it out at the end. So my ratio of 6 ghosts stories to 2 non ghost stories is actually 5-3. Even if I finish both of these this weekend, there will still be a black sheep, so to speak.

I'm going to have to think hard on this. I want to get something published soon. But on the other hand, I really wanted this anthology to be nothing but ghost stories. I'm even starting to conceptualize the foreward to it, on the basis that it will be all ghost stories. So at the moment my solution is to try and finish the stories I'm working on, and trying to go to the well one last time.

If I can finish the rough drafts to the two I have this weekend, that will give me three days until my self imposed deadline to try and come up with one more. But it has to be good. This anthology will have my name on it, so no filler crap posing as fiction. Oh well, I'll just work my tail off and see what I've got on Dec 1st.

I can do this.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Crunch Time



Alas, poor Muse. I knew him Horatio...

Okay, actually just the reverse is true. After my muse taking an unwelcome holiday for the summer and most of the fall, it has returned. It's been giving partial responses, but that still counts as inspiration.

And with a self imposed deadline approaching, those flickers of inspiration are good things.

I have nine days left, before I "put to bed" the final story selection of Shades. I have six ghost stories, two monster stories...and I'm hoping to replace one or both of those monster stories with ghost stories as well. I now have three idea for stories, that appeal.to me. But the deadline looms. And now I have the kids home all week for their Thanksgiving break as well.

So this is going to be tough.

But I'm going to plow ahead and stick to my deadline. I think I can do this, and if necessary can still go with what I've got...the 6-2 ratio. It's time to get something done.

I'm really thinking of writing a foreward and afterward to this collection as well. It will be some observations on ghost stories in general, and on what I was trying to do with the stories in this anthology. We shall see. For now, I need to just focus on writing while trying to also do what needs to be done to get through Thanksgiving.

Wish me luck :P

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Ghosts and Novelettes




I've been downloading and reading a lot of ghost story anthologies for the dual purpose of researching the genre, and to get inspiration for my own work. What I've discovered so far, after going through a couple of collections, is that most ghost stories aren't really very scary.

Now a lot of that is due to presentation. It seems like a lot of ghost stories are told from this detached "just the facts ma'am" point of view, as if that adds some kind of authenticity to the story. Many of the older ones do this, especially the turn of the century ones from authors like Ambrose Bierce and Algernon Blackwell.  They are interesting reads, just not much in the way of suspense.

And most modern horror short stories aren't ghost stories at all. So that left a bit of a hole in my research effort.

I wonder if part of that is due to the ghost needing to be a character in the modern story. Short stories nowadays have to be five thousand words or less usually, which makes a big problem for the writer when it comes to character development.  A giant snake or mutant rat doesn't need much of a back story to be scary, since their very existence is supposed to be the scary part. But a ghost without a backstory just doesn't work very well...and back story eats into that precious word count.

This is one of the reasons that the Shades anthology will be indie when I publish it. Several of the stories are eight, ten, or even twelve thousand words long.. They need to be, for the ghost to have both character and impact AND for me to build a scene with suspense. So they are novelettes, which is a fancy word for the aforementioned seven-thousand to seventeen-thousand word story. I'm hoping the new indie market will see a resurgance of that form, since I think it allows the brief experience of the short story combined with the more in depth experience of the novella. Novelettes just fell out of fashion a long time ago because they took up too much space in pulp magazines.

Anyways, I'm still hunting for one more story for the Shades anthology. I've got "A Long, Cold Forever of a Night" out being read by proofreaders, then once I hear back from all of them I'll start the polishing work on it. Then it's back to hunting that one last story. Here's hoping I come up with something good soon.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Tis the Season...to Gut a Pumpkin

Karla and the kids get in the spirit of the season....



Sheridan and Rowan each designed their own Jack o Lantern, and the knifework was left to Mom.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Bedtime Stories

Check this out...





Rowan shows off her reading skills. She is autistic, six years old, and two months into first grade. Some of what she is saying is hard to understand, but she is reading the words correctly. Sometimes she insists on somebody else reading a sentence or two, but she is quite capable of reading the book herself. She has really been coming on lately, and we're so proud of her.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Look Ma! I Published Something!




Today, LL Dreamspell announced the release of their latest horror anthology "Dreamspell Nightmares II."
I set a personal best in this anthology, by getting three different stories accepted for it. And I feel they are three of my better short stories.

The first story is "Closing Time". It tells the tale of Erin, who discovers that some stalkers are tougher to shake than others...especially the dead kind.

The second is "Rite of Passage". Some people feel this is one of my more frightening works, and it received high marks at the writer's workshop at Apollocon where I had it critiqued. This is actually an earlier work of mine focused on mood and setting, along with back story.

The third is "Under a Racer's Moon," which is a bit of a layered work...and also has a touch of humor thrown in to balance things. Two young men are out looking for excitement, and find it in a big way when they find themselves in a race with a spectral De Soto.

Anyways, it feels good to see this come out and I hope everybody enjoys it!

Nate

Monday, October 24, 2011

Holy Crap! I Turned 50 Today!


Lovely. There are now full grown oak trees younger than me.

Bah! I don't care!

*shakes cane at world*

Everybody, get off my lawn!

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Step in the Right Direction




Today, I just finished the very rough draft of the 10,000 word novelette, "A Long, Cold Forever of a Night." It is a ghost story, and features the young lady on the cover of the anthology. As I stated earlier, I hate it when a horror anthology has a really cool cover that ends up not having anything to do with any of the stories within. So I felt it would be slightly hypocritical of me to have this really cool cover that was made for me, and then not have this haunt show up in the book.

The story is still very, very rough but I think it's solid. I'm going to put it on the shelf for a few days and pursue a different project before returning and editing this with a fresh pair of eyes. I also wrote it because I wanted the stories in the Shades anthology to be more about ghosts than anything else, and currently its an even split between 4 ghost stories and 4 stories of other types of horror.  Now I just changed that split to 5-3. I would like to make it 6-2, or even 7-1, but we shall just have to wait and see if I can do it.

Anyways, it feels good getting it done. I have been needing a confidence builder, what with all the struggling I've been doing on novels lately, and this helps. I needed to finish something.

So that's that. There is still a lot to do, but I feel better about my odds of doing it.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Blog Announcement




As of now, the regular schedule of A Dark and Stormy Blog will be discontinued. For the near future, there will only be updates and announcements on here when I actually have something to announce.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing. What it means is that I am now focusing even more of my energies into becoming a writer again. I have come to the conclusion that a writer is someone who finishes manuscripts and gets them out there to be read...and I haven't done that since publishing The Mushroom Man last February. The only thing I have actually been getting published is this blog. I have allowed myself to get hung up on several different projects, and it's time to focus all my energies on finishing things.

The other bright side is that there will be no more "forced content" for a while, just stuff that I feel is actually worth posting. So we shall see what we shall see.

I hope everybody has a good weekend. I will be out in the wilds of Kingwood, having a Cub Scout campout with the boy...so if you guys never hear from me again it may have nothing to do with me writing at all.

Aloha...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Ghost Stories and Eight Year Olds


The above book cover is my current background on my computer screen, since it is one of the projects I'm working on. Lately, I have been working with my laptop hooked to my big screen TV so it was only a matter of time until my eight year old son, Sheridan, took notice and commented.

"Hey, Dad? Who's the weird lady on your computer?"
"She's a ghost, son. She's going to be in one of the stories I'm writing."
"Is that story done?"
"Almost."
"So, what's the story about?"
*I give him a slightly sanitized version that's was also made more accessible to the eight year old understanding of the world*
"Oh," he looked at the screen thoughtfully, "I guess that's cool. But you need to make her really scary."
"Really scary? Okay, kiddo...what would make her really scary?"
He studied the picture judiciously for a moment longer.
"Give her a rocket launcher. That oughta do it."

Yeah. So this is the wisdom I get when sharing my work at home. Just thought I would offer that snapshot in the home life of a writer.

(on a side note. It has always annoyed me in horror anthologies when there would be some super cool scene or character on the cover that turned out not to have a single thing to do with any of the stories within. So I felt duty bound to try and give the ghost girl on the cover a story of her own)

Anyways, work continues to proceed at a snails pace but it proceeds. Not a good week for writing though because of all the chores that need doing. I gotta get ready for the exterminator today. Maybe do some more laundry as well.

 I'm doing more reading nowadays with my new Kindle DX, so that's one improvement. I'm reading lots of ghost stories to see how I might do things different... short of a rocket launcher.

Happy humpday!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Maintenance Day



Karla is off today, so we are taking advantage of the extra pair of hands to get some things done around the house. Rooms are being cleaned, and laundry is getting done. Appts are being made for prescriptions and for exterminators. Things are getting taken care of.

So I will return to writing tomorrow.  I'm just taking a ten oclock break to recover from the exertion before jumping back in for another hour. Then I think the two of us will go out and eat...something we almost never get to do since the kids came along.

So stuff is getting done, and there's not much to report. Sometimes, that's just the way things go.

Happy Monday!

Friday, September 30, 2011

CMT Awareness Month Post


Well, it's nearing the end of CMT Awareness Month and I realize I have never made a post about it. I almost chose not to, but in the end a strange sense of obligation compelled me...so here goes.

CMT (Charcot Marie Tooth) is not a very big part of my self image. Even though I've been wrestling with the symptoms of it for nine years now (wow, it's been that long?) I have never really identified with it. The truth is, even after all this time I still don't have CMT in most of my dreams. So I very seldom write about it, even though it's something I'm always compensating for.

Now that doesn't mean I don't think about it, or that it doesn't intrude into my life on a daily (or often hourly) basis. It does, and it's often the source of frustration, anger, resignation, or just plain old tiredness. But it's always been a thing apart from me...not who I am. Sure, I have to make concessions to it, and I hate it, (except for that nifty handicapped parking license plate. That thing rules) but the fact remains that to me it's usually been something I've viewed as an external event. It's just not who I am...so it never really occurs to me to join organizations for people with CMT, or take part in events having to do with raising CMT awareness. I have never really identified myself as part of a group.

And that probably means I'm dealing with a super-sized case of denial.

I wonder why? I'm not embarrassed by it. Actually, I tend to wear shorts that leave my braces openly visible simply because it helps keep my legs from sweating inside the plastic molds, and it also acts as an easy visual cue for other people to understand, without asking, why I may need a little extra room or time to maneuver through an aisle in the supermarket or mall. Hell, I'm paralyzed from the knees down so the fact that I can walk with little more than a pair of plastic braces the same size as my socks is hardly something I'm embarrassed about. So I don't think ego is involved.

If there is anywhere it drives me crazy, it's in two areas. One is not being able to do things with my kids that other Dad's do with theirs. I remember being at the zoo with my son when he was four and he saw another kid riding on his Dad's shoulders. He wanted to do the same, and I couldn't...and realized I never would. Ouch. I don't know how to describe how that felt, other than to say you never ever want to feel it.

The other area is attempting simple tasks that I have had a lifetime to get used to the idea of doing. Now that I'm fighting it in my hands, I have had to concede the husbandly role of Household Jar Opener to Karla. Okay, there may be a teensy bit of ego involved in that one. But other than that, it's mainly just infuriating little things like discovering that things you used to do without thinking (like opening your gas cap on your car) now needs to be planned ahead for. (such as realizing that a tool might need to be procured against that day the fingers will no longer unscrew that cap).

So thats my Charcot Marie Tooth post for the year.

I've got it, but so far it's not who I am. That's not necessarily a good thing or a bad thing. Identifying with it more might actually let me be a little more forgiving of myself when I fail at things, but that's just not where I am yet. I know it could be a lot worse. Some people have to put up with everything I am, and have to deal with pain on top of it. Fortunately, pain was never a very big part of this for me. (except when I have one of my spectacular crashes to the floor...dragging dishes, furniture, and kids down along with me. Trust me, even the Hindenburg didn't do it better.).

Anyways, that's the way it is. I'm a husband...I'm a father...I'm an author...and on the side I struggle with CMT.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Monday, September 26, 2011

Little Ideas Grow to Bigger Stories


Progress is happening on my novels. It's slow, but it's happening.

It's funny, somebody read a short story of mine called Picking Dewberries and commented on my use of spiders. The truth is I've written about eighteen to twenty short stories, and spiders figured in exactly one of them...BUT...that's the story that I took as an idea to base a novel off of. When I wrote Picking Dewberries...which can be found in the Dreamspell Nightmares Anthology (the paperback is on sale right now for $2.83)...I realized that the story created a problem and wondered how to resolve it. If these creatures existed, HOW did they continue to exist? From that musing arose the story of Argiope, which in many ways is the continuation of Picking Dewberries. As a matter of fact, I'm using Picking Dewberries as the placeholder prologue until I finish the story and can go back and create a distinctive prologue for the novel itself.

The other novel I'm working on is Dead Stop...and again it finds some of it's origin on one of my short stories. Sometime later this year, Dreamspell Nightmares 2 will be released and it features three more short stories of mine...three of my better ones actually. One of those is called Under A Racer's Moon and is the story of two young men in a race against something otherworldy. It's one of my favorite stories. And the two main characters in this story are where I drew the inspiration for the two leading men of Dead Stop. Harley and Deke of Dead Stop owe much of their character to Hocker and Eddie from the Short Story.

So my short stories kind of becomes resources I can look at for bigger projects. I wonder if other writer's do that? In my case, the short story exists because it encapsulates a fairly basic scene or idea that I had. If you have ever read Storm Chase, the first story in Wind and Dark Waters, you will notice a distinct pattern of behavior in the movement of Charlotte March that occurs again with Moonstone Maddy in The Ways of Khrem. Short stories seem to be my testing grounds.

Sadly, it's been a while since I wrote a short story because I'm now gritting my teeth and trying to get a novel or two out the door. But I look forward to being able to play with ideas again.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Ugh


I had a post for this Friday, but I stopped myself from posting it at the last minute for fear I might jinx myself. Being a writer sure seems to bring out what appears to be superstition in a person...but I don't think it is really superstition. I think it's just a process I don't understand very well yet. But until I do, I guess I better settle for respecting it instead.

So no jinxing myself.

Anyway, I'll just settle for saying that work on the novel proceeds at an acceptable rate. It's still got a lot of work ahead, but there is hope.

One of these days, I'm going to have to figure this stuff out so it isn't "superstition" anymore.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Progress on Many Fronts


First of all, the Cowboys won.

It was quite a game, and they pulled it out in the end due to the efforts of mainly one guy. Their usually goofy quarterback who left the game with cracked ribs and a punctured lung, only to return later and take charge of the game. And the thing is, I barely recognized him on the sideline shots. The normally goofy (when winning) or mopey (when losing) guy was replaced by a focused, determined man who seemed to have nothing in common with the quarterback that I knew. His entire affect was different, and you could see him talking with the receivers on the sidelines and explaining to them what he wanted to do. He was just an entirely different guy. I hope we can keep him and lose the cracked ribs.

On another front, the writing continues to proceed. I actually cracked the two thousand word mark yesterday, which is something I don't think I've done since before last summer some time. The scene is almost finished, and it ain't half bad for a first draft. I managed to include a nice grisly decapitation since I figured that fans of zombie stories would be disappointed if there weren't at least one of those in the story. Now I'm looking for a slightly more metaphorical way to bump off the other person in the scene and then I can start the final part of the book where the rugged survivors begin their escape. Yay!

Anyways, it's humpday and the week has been going well. I'm starting to get real optimistic about this book I'm writing, and I had to fight to keep from breaking my rule about posting snippets. I sort of feel the need to show what I've been doing... but I've learned better. No matter sabotaging myself. I won't post any more snippets until I have a finished first draft in hand.

But it's looking good :)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Reading and Writing



I'm currently reading Raymond Chandler's, The Big Sleep. As a fan of Hemingways spare style, especially regarding dialogue, it's interesting to see how somebody who is so absolutely opposite of that is also a great writer. I do like Chandlers emphasis on setting, something I believe in putting effort into. There are just some places it doesn't pay to be too "spare."

My new kindle is a godsend, especially while I'm waiting that hour in line to pick up the kids from school. That may very well become my favorite time of the day. An hour of nothing but sitting, reading, and listening to music on my cd player. Seriously, that's not too bad.

I did some good writing on Dead Stop, but I have to go back and fix the scene I just wrote. It was silly of me, but I forgot that there had been a victim earlier in story in the place the scene takes place, so there should have been a body right in the middle of the whole thing. I'll have to go back now and figure out how to fit it in, and how it changes things. Oh well, things are going slowly but they are going.

Alas, the housework is also going "slowly" so I'm going to have to start trying to catch up on it as well.

Work, work, work.

Happy Monday!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Plowing Through


Writing has been slow this week, but it has been happening.

Apparently my muse has decided to take on the role of a mule. One that has to be bribed, cajoled, threatened, and flogged just to keep a slow plodding pace as it plows the back forty. It's being ornery, but I'm managing to get it started again after each frequent balk. Writing is getting done. Just not a great deal of it at any one time.

At the same time I'm getting some useful reading in. I'm currently reading Stephen King's "On Writing." I reasoned that a guy as successful as he was might have a clue what he was talking about. As it turns out, the book is a delight, and it's encouraging to realize how much I have in common with him. Now if I can just extend those commonalities to include wild success in the field of writing, I'll be happy. As it is though, the book is very helpful and I recommend it to anybody who writes.

Anyways, hopefully today I will finish the scene in Dead Stop that I've been plodding through all week. Two of my protagonists have entered the dangerous side of a truckstop, where a zombie lurks somewhere in the dark, in an effort to close the doors and keep the others out. It's kind of interesting how the scene is turning out different than I originally plotted it. Maybe Stephen King has point in his disdain for plotting. Hmmm....

On another note, I went to my son's open house at his school last and met his two charming, lovely young teachers. And as I talked with these wonderful ladies, it occurred to me how much the world has changed. My third grade teacher was a blue-haired old battleaxe with a glare that could stop a T-rex in mid charge. When she snapped for everybody to be quiet, nature went into a hush for a half mile around her. The rumor amongst (is that still a word?) my classmates was that she kept extra kids in her basement that she beat every morning, just to warm up for the day.

Ah the good old days....

Oh well, the weekend is here. Have fun everybody.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Nate Joins the 21st Century



So, after years of shaking my cane at the world and yelling at it to "get off my lawn!", I have finally surrendered and drug my creaky old frame into the new enlightenment. Well, actually I just bought a Kindle but we'll stretch that metaphor for all it's worth.

Now my car doesn't have to turn into a library while I wait an hour every day in line to pick up the kids. Now books will be cheaper. Now I can preview my own manuscripts on the reader they are designed to be published on and tell if they need better formatting or not. Now...

Oh hell, now I can just read books more conveniently.

Anyways, my writing is proceeding at a slow but workmanlike pace. It IS getting done at the moment which feels pretty good. I have to give part of the credit to Stephen Kings little book "On Writing." It's sort of inspirational to read the life story of a true master of writing in his own words and realize that he isn't really that different from the rest of us...other than making millions of dollars at what he does, of course. But he did start with humble beginnings and wrote his way out of them. And his advice is actually pretty useful and easy to understand.

Anyways. I'm running late on my writing and it's time to start. (I run late on a lot of things)

Happy Humpday!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Work Week



Well, the NFL is finally back! The Cowboys played the Jets and lost a heartbreaker in the last thirty seconds of the game. Sigh. I probably should be happy since I thought Dallas might get blown out before the game started.

Anyways....

I'm struggling with a scene in Dead Stop and it has been giving me real trouble. So my goal this week is to put everything on the back burner and try to get through this scene. It's an important scene because it not only results in the bumping off of two characters, it also sets up a situation that allows another character to figure out the nature of the creatures trying to kill them. So it's a critical scene that I can't just delete. It just isn't writing itself very well.

So that's my thing this week. That's my goal. Once I'm past this scene the writing should pick up.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Things




I think I realize what has been giving me problems writing the past two days. I think I have written myself into a corner, and have been confusing my inability to go forward with a minor case of writers block. The truth is, the problem may be with the scene itself and I'm going to go back to it's beginning and try rewriting another way and see if that helps.

I actually "feel" like writing, which is why I think the above might be the case.

One of the things that has helped has been reading a couple of Stephen King books that I bought a long time ago and had never gotten in to......"Bag of Bones" and "Hearts in Atlantis." Both are different than his earlier works that I used to love, so I had put them aside. Now I decided to read them, and it was literally inspiring to read writing that good. Even if the stories themselves aren't as focused as his earlier works like "The Shining" or "Christine", now that I read him with the eye of another writer I can begin to appreciate how good his writing really is. I'm gonna have to get copies of all his older stuff and go through them again.

Which brings me to the best part...

I bought myself a new Kindle DX.

Yeppers! I've now got one of my own so my wife and I can both curl up and read our fancy new ereaders after throwing the kids in bed. Even better, I get an hour a day waiting to pick up the kids from school that will now be devoted to reading as well. Woohoo! Stephen King, Earnest Hemingway, and others....here I come!

Oh, and I bought Stephen King's book "On Writing" which should hopefully arrive today. lol! It's like Christmas in September! Minus the snow and with forest fires added in...

On another front, the fires are out in our neighborhood so now I simply wait and hope for the best for my family and others who are dealing with the big fires up in Montgomery county. We really need some rain.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

So My Neighborhood Hasn't Burned Down... Yet



We had a fire start yesterday morning in the wooded area that runs along the back of our subdivsion. Needless to say, this sort of dominated the days itinerary as the time I had intended to budget towards writing got used for evacuation preparations instead. Clothes were packed, plans were laid, cat carriers were readied, and events were monitored.

And then a whole lot of nothing.

Well, nothing if you consider listening all day to news reports of the state burning down around your ears to be nothing. But it appeared that the fire in our neighborhood was brought under control in good order. It flared up again in the evening, but the firetrucks returned and once again put things right.

Now we wait and see.

I don't see any smoke in the air, but my eyes, nose, and throat are badly irritated. It's like having a bad case of allergies. I can also still detect the smell of smoke in the atmosphere as well. So things are better, but I don't think we are out of trouble yet. Oh well, at least I have the kids packed up and ready to move out on a moments notice if things go south for any reason.

And maybe I'll get some writing done.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Back Story



I'm in a pretty good mood.

I sent the first fifty thousand words of Dead Stop off to a proofreader, just to get some feedback to help me get a little boost towards my effort to finish this draft. It got a positive reaction. She seems to think it's worth finishing, which is always a good thing.

Now if I can just get the next thirty or forty thousand words to live up to the first.

So now the season has come to get that second wind and get cracking. I'll go ahead and enjoy labor day with the family, but starting Tuesday I focus on cranking out the verbage. It's about to get serious. Summer is over and the kids are back in school. No more excuses.

It's time to write.

I also have to accept that for one hour a day, I shall be waiting in a car line of parents in order to pick up the kids from school. I handled this last week by reading Stephen King's Bag of Bones. I guess I'm going to get my reading in as well this year, so I think it's about time to get myself a Kindle like my wife has. It makes more sense than starting a library in my car.

So lots of reading and writing.

It's about time.

Friday, September 2, 2011

D. Nathan Hilliard ... Super Genius.



So I was sitting out in front of the kids school at 6:45 this morning. I clung to my cup of coffee like a shipwreck survivor hangs on to a life preserver, praying to the gods of java to make my brain start functioning. And this time, much to my surprise...they listened. As I sat there nursing my coffee and staring out the windshield at the dim pre-dawn world, a true stroke of genius hit me. 

Night classes for elementary kids!

Think about it!

Kids hate going to bed, so they would love this. And we wouldn't have to get up at obscene times in the morning just to torture the little darlings by dragging them out of bed. Who doesn't feel guilty yanking an innocent child out of his slumber? Heck, growing kids need their sleep! And while the kids were at school, we could do important things like go out and have dinner and catch movies that the kids don't want to see. It would improve the economy of restaurants and Hollywood overnight!

So I offer this stroke of genius humbly,  with no thought of Nobel prizes or any of the other awards it so richly deserves. I'm simply content if I can just go to bed knowing I've made the world a better place.

I guess I just roll that way :) 

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

It Would Be Good To Be The King




It would be good to be the king, because there is so much I would change. For instance, if people have to show up at five thirty in the morning to get a decent spot in line at a drivers license office that opens at eight oclock...then there is obviously a problem and it needs to be addressed. This is a daily occurrence here in Houston. And then, I would order all photo takers to take five pictures and let the applicant decide for themselves which looks the least mentally retarded and have that on their drivers license. Is that asking too much?

Oh, and a note to the teenage girl surfing the internet and listening to tunes on her ipad while the rest of us stewed in line...we all hate you. But you knew that, didn't you. And you probably enjoyed every second of it. (I know I would)

I would also have the drivers license dept send you TWO copies of your drivers license. Just so if you ever lose your wallet (like I did), your entire world doesn't come to a screeching halt as you start the process of jumping through hoops to put your identity back together again. Lets face it, a backup license isn't unreasonable.

So...there's that.

Anyways, the muse is still flirting but not given me anything substantial yet. I'm hoping to hear back from my proofreader in a day or two, and then I'll get back to novel writing. Until then...happy humpday, folks.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Good Morning, Monday!


The kids are off to school and another glorious Monday begins.

My muse has been paying teasing little visits over the weekend. She's been giving me just the hint of ideas and then flitting away before any of them  develop into anything substantial. It's been pretty maddening, but after a summer of no inspiration whatsoever it's an improvement. At least it means there is still hope.

I have both of my incomplete novels out being read at the moment, just to get some feedback. I need to get a sense of what impression they give, and what their strong and weak points are before continuing. Sometimes you just have to take a project and get a second opinion on whether or not it's worth continuing to pursue. Until then, I think I might let my muse toy with me and see if I can wrangle a short story out of her.

On another front. I stuck to a low carb diet this summer and lost a total of 24 pounds since mid June. I was feeling pretty good about myself, but fell off of it this last week. Now I will probably pack on fifty over the course of the next three days just because that's the way my life works.

Sigh.

Oh well, Happy Monday folks!

Friday, August 26, 2011

My Muse Peeks In


So I have started writing again.

With the kids gone for a few hours each day, I'm getting a little time alone and I'm trying to put it to good use. I have been sitting in front of my laptop, and forcing myself to write. The words are coming...slowly...but they are coming. I just kept referring back to the outline I made for the chapter in question and put words on paper.

Then late last night it happened....

My muse showed up.

She has been in hiding pretty much all summer, and I was beginning to wonder if she still exists. Apparently she does, but she's still pretty pissed about the whole "kids home all day for the summer" thing. She only showed up for a minute. Just long enough to look over my shoulder at what I was doing and proclaim it to be "Plodding, Uninspired Crap That's Being Told From The Wrong Characters Perspective" before stalking off to sulk some more.

But she's still out there.

I hope she forgives me soon.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Uhhhhh,,,,,


The children are off enjoying their first day of school.

I'm sitting here staring at my laptop and trying to figure out what to do. The silence is a little unnerving.

Now I guess I better start hunting my muse. I wonder where she has been hiding all summer. Maybe I can tempt her out of hiding with a can of tuna or a cookie. What do muses eat?


Monday, August 22, 2011

Happy Birthday, Rowan...and Aloha poor Blog




And for the third time, this blog celebrates Rowans birthday. The first was here and the second was here. She is growing like a weed, and starting to come along in other ways as well. She is starting to use sentences, and can already read far ahead of even her unchallenged peers. So time is moving on and life along with it.

And that probably means this is a good time to discuss this blog.

It originally started out as a writing blog, then morphed into a personal blog because I originally labored under the illusion that I was supposed to update it every day. I did this for two years but the strain of continually coming up with material took its toll. Not to mention, I discovered that many readers didn't like a blog that updated every day and wandered on.

Also, since it was no longer just a writing blog, the theme had become mixed and ended up confusing people. People who came here interested in my works, were not interested in seeing daily pics and videos of kids they didn't know. At the same time, I was trying to figure out how to cater to two different audiences and ended up not doing a good job of either.

So it's time for a change.

I'm going to continue with this blog a while longer, but I will be planning a future blog that will be my "author's blog." It will be exclusively about writing or thoughts that relate to writing. This blog may remain as my "personal" blog...but it will not be updated as often either. This is all just preliminary and subject to change, but that is the direction things are heading.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Preparing to Toil Forward




So, soon the kids will be back in school and I will have much of my productive time back. My mind will not be scrambled by the words "Dad! Dad! Dad! Dad! Dad! Dad! Dad! Dad! Dad! Dad! Dad! Dad! Dad! Dad! Dad!Dad! Dad! Dad!  Dad! Dad! Dad! "

Sometimes I hear it in my sleep.

Anyways. I will have some decisions to make soon as well. I'm working on one story for the Shades compilation, and if it's any good it will go in. Then it will be a matter of formatting it and deciding whether to try and format it myself or hire a pro. There is also the decision of Createspace vs just Kindle DTP. Do I want a physical copy of the book to exist? I've got a pretty good cover for it. And I'll have to get a copyright as well. Sigh.

Work on Dead Stop proceeds slowly, but it does proceed. I'm having to literally outline each chapter before I write it, but it seems the best way to move forward with confidence. I might try that with Argiope. I know it's just a pipe dream, but wouldn't it be awesome if I could get the Shades Anthology, Dead Space, and Argiope all done by New Years?

Oh well, I've also got some marketing decisions to make as well. I may need to start a new "authors blog" that is devoted totally to writing, and make this my personal blog. It might be a good idea to separate my facebook account as well. I think the mishmash has caused confusion.

Oh well, lots to think about...and I've got a lot to learn.

This weekend is Rowan's sixth birthday, so my next update will be devoted to her.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Reading Break





While I'm debating which way to take a scene I'm currently working on in my zombie novel, I decided to take a break and do some reading. I fished out a book I bought on sale from Barnes and Noble almost a year ago, and had put aside for later. I figured now counted as later.

The book is called The Cases That Haunt Us by John Douglas. He was a psychological detective with the FBI and uses those skills to evaluate famous cases like Jack the Ripper, Lizzie Borden, and the Lindbergh Baby kidnapping. He does a great job of 'demythologizing' them (especially Zodiac) and reducing them down to the little people they most likely were. It's a fascinating read. It doesn't shy away from the gore, but it doesn't dwell on it either. The focus is more on who and what the criminal was and how Mr. Douglas arrived at his conclusions.

Since The Ways of Khrem is both fantasy and mystery, I thought it would be useful reading to help come up with a sequel. In poor Cargill's case, he's trying to seperate the works of psychopaths from that of monsters, but this kind of thing would still be useful. I would also like to try my hand at the mystery genre itself one day so it could be useful for that too. Anyways, it passes for what I call research as I decide how to go forward on my projects.

And soon...oh yes, very soon...the kids will be back in school and I can buckle down and make a run at getting some things done. This summer has been maddening due to my nonproductivity, but hopefully that will all end soon.

Soon.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Vacation is Over




So we are back from Galveston...and the aquarium wouldn't let us bring the shark cage home with us. Sigh.

It was actually a good time for everybody. We went to Moody Gardens and did all the pyramids...twice. We did the Dinosaurs Alive exhibit...twice. We saw 3D Imax movies...several times. And we walked The Strand and I blew up my diet in a candy store. We also went to a water park...twice...where Karla chased kids around the pools while I read my Terry Pratchett book since I can't go in the water.

So I guess everybody came home a winner, and now we're all recuperating.

I still could have really used that shark cage though.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Quick Vacation Snippet



So far vacation is going along well. We took a family picture, although I probably should have had my coffee first...


Sheridan practiced waiting for trains at the train museum.


We discovered an old fashioned candy store and ice cream parlor.


The diet that I have been sticking to this summer suffered a quick and grisly death...

And I found an internet hotspot where I could do this quick update. We're having fun, and it's going well. It's a great way to do the closing days of summer.




Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Importance of Seeing It



One of the hangups that slowed me down while writing Argiope is that I had this cool idea for an ending...and so I wrote towards that ending. Then one day when I was having a particularly "visual" day, I sat back and visualized some scenes in different stories I was working on. And that was where I discovered I had a problem.

The ending that I had thought was so cool, simply wouldn't work. Not even close. The idea was cool as an idea, but when I actually sat down and went through the effort of picturing it clearly in my head, it was utterly unworkable. I discovered a couple of other scenes like that too. Some were impossible, others were just silly. Needless to say, this drug things to a halt for a long time.

So one thing that I've learned that helps the writing flow, is to take time once in a while to sit down and carefully visualize each step of a scene in your head. Really try to see it. I've discovered some times it comes easy, and sometimes the scene takes a lot of effort to bring forward. And if it takes too much effort, there may be cause to suspect the scene may really have a problem.

And the best part is that you can do this kind of visualizing when writing itself isn't an option. It just takes a little concentration...and the absence of screaming children (but we won't go there). So that is my hint to other writers. See the scene.

On another note, I will be leaving Friday for our family vacation in Galveston so I don't know when or if this blog will be getting updated between now and the fourteenth. I will try, but things are what they are.

So happy writing out there, and SEE THE SCENE!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Speaking of Projects in the Works



I just received the above cover art from Justyn Perry, an editor and cover artist who happens to be a friend of my wife. I have to confess it is a quantum leap...hell, several quantum leaps... over any cover I have ever made myself. I see I'm going to have to really step up my game if I ever intend to do another cover of my own. Until then, I might be better off leaving it to the pros.

This will be an anthology of eight stories, five of which were formerly sold as singles on Amazon.com, with three more added. The singles will soon be removed from sale. Since the anthology itself will likely be .99 cents, there isn't any reason to charge somebody that price for a single story. I am currently debating the eighth story, and once I have either selected or written that one I will take the next step of making a manuscript and finding a formatter who is proficient with kindle formatting. I am trying to up my standards, and once again, the idea of having it professionally done has it's merits. Of course, it will all depend on what it costs.

Still, if it's going to have my name on it then it behooves me to put the best product possible in front of the reader. When you're a writer, reputation matters....a lot.

So that's where things stand on that project. I'm hoping to have that out this fall, with Dead Stop out later in the winter... *crosses fingers, knocks on wood, and most likely spits in wind*

Anyways, Friday is when our annual family vacation to Galveston begins so I will once again be busy with all sorts of domestic chores that aren't writing. One would think that kids get more mobile as they get older, but the truth is just the opposite. The little bundle of joy that could once be toted along with a single bag and a stroller now requires a clothes duffel bag of his or her own and a veritable torrent of encouragement and threats to get moving. Sigh, I can't wait till they're teenagers so they can be reasoned with.

So it's a big week for me...preparing for the next big week for everybody else.

Ta!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Sometimes Things Evolve



When I finish working on the scene I'm writing tonight, Dead Stop will cross the fifty thousand word threshold. It wasn't originally envisioned that way.

Dead Stop was originally envisioned to be a quick forty to fifty thousand word zombie novella about one night at a truckstop when the dead decide to drop in for a bite. The premise was extremely simple, kill a bunch of people in bloody fashion and see if the others could get out alive. But of course with me, nothing ever works out that simple. 

First the characters came alive. Then certain questions arose like...what if some of the characters were related to these zombies? Or, what if some people were just badly injured and had to be cared for? Then this weird sense of intellectual honesty demanded I go and research corpses, decomposition, and embalming so that I could make the most authentic zombies possible. And since the story is told from several characters points of view, they had to each have their own personality and 'story' so they would stand out. I've even looked up a couple of native Spanish speakers in order to make one of the waitresses a tad more authentic.

So now I'm at fifty thousand words and approximately sixty five to seventy percent through the story that wasn't supposed to be this long in the first place. 

But it's a rocking story...and it's going to get finished. It's just going to be a full novel when it's done.

It's premise is still the same. The time it covers is still the same...one night. It's just...

...evolved.

One day I will start a simple project and keep it that way. I will! Really! I hope...



And no, that isn't the final cover art. It's just a placeholder till I can either come up with something better or contract for it.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Midweek Update


AAAAAAARRRRRRRGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

That is all....

Monday, July 25, 2011

As July Winds Down


So the summer goes on, and life along with it.

I picked up the boy from his cousins house, and after a week of quiet productivity things have now returned to their noisy normal around here. Writing has pretty much ground to a halt again, as the boy isn't just content telling me every achievement he as accomplished with his computer games or legos...he has to ask questions to make sure I'm listening.

But, it's good to have him back.

And it's good to know the muse is still out there...just waiting to get a chance to get back to work. Argiope is now at 88,000 words and Dead Stop is now at 48,000 words.

Maybe, just maybe, I might get two novels out by this Christmas. Now that would rock.

Friday, July 22, 2011

So I Lost My Wallet



Yep, it's gone.

So now the replacement process begins. The drivers license...which requires a birth certificate. Getting a birth certificate requires other ID i don't have, so the wife has to do that. Getting the new debit card, which they would prefer I had a driver's license to show them...but in this case I got lucky and got away with showing them the police report which had the license number on it. Still had to answer ten thousand questions though.

Then there will be the kiddos prescription card. And my medicare card. And my library card (Hey, I read you know!) And other assorted lesser cards and papers which I kept with me.

And while I go through this, it occurs to me that there is something wrong with a system that can leave you so incapacitated when you lose one item that is only slightly larger than a deck of cards. One item that you take with you everywhere you go...constantly taking it out of your pocket and putting it back in. It's ridiculous! There needs to be some way you can back up your information so when something like this happens it isn't so devastating to your normal functioning in the world.

For crying out loud, it's the 21st century!

Sigh, so that's where I am. I hope everybody else out there is doing better.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Late Post



The eight year old is spending the week at his cousins house, so it's just me and his sister. The sudden quiet that has enveloped the play has been sort of disorienting, and at first I didn't know what to do. Then it hit me...

"Hey! I know!" I exclaimed to absolutely nobody, "I'm a writer. Maybe I ought to write something!"

Impressed with my astonishing onset of logic, I decided to give it a try...and to my surprise I actually did some writing. As a matter of fact, I'm kind of pleased with the amount of writing I got done. I can't show any snippets, because as we all now know that has the effect of sabotaging my work. But I actually managed to slog through half an important scene in Dead Stop AND Argiope has now jumped from eighty thousand words to eighty eight thousand words. The latter is looking to be about a hundred and thirty thousand word novel though, so we'll see how that goes.

Wow.

On the downer side, it appears I have lost my wallet. I'm going to check one last place it might be tomorrow morning, and then I guess I'll have to get a police report. Then it's the long slow process of replacing licenses, credit cards, debit cards, library cards, insurance cards, etc...

Bleh.

So thats my week. I hope everybody else is doing good.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Weekend Adaptations


I got new braces for my legs in May. I really liked them, but the left one kept making my left foot sore. I didn't worry to much about it, as I expected there to be a breaking in period. Well, after six or seven weeks it was still making my foot hurt, and then it got bad enough that I had to hobble home from a dinner date with my wife on Friday night. So I finally tried to figure out what was going on.

Wearing an extra sock on that foot had helped some, but it still gave me trouble from time to time. Then I resorted to wearing ace bandages on that foot, but it turned out further measures were still needed. Well, Friday night it got to the point that I dug out my old plastic braces and tried the left one on to see if that made a difference. Although my foot was already badly sore by now, I could tell immediately that the old brace wasn't hurting it.

So I took the old brace off and held it side by side to the new one. Sure enough, they were shaped different. The old one made allowances for a protruding bone in my foot, while the new ones were cut just below that so that when I put weight on my feet it forced that bone down on the edge of the brace. So now I'll have to figure out if they can take another mold of my foot and put a new footpiece on that brace without breaking the bank. Until then, I'm wearing one old brace and one new one.

At least I finally found the problem.

I've been kind of itching to write again. I don't have solid ideas yet, but I'm starting to feel just the barest tickle of my muse. It's been a while. The problem is that it's still most likely goimg to have to wait until the kids are back in school. But it's still heartening to know that feeling is there.

Oh well, onwards and upwards!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Frustration


This summer is becoming something of a "summer of discovery" on the matter of writing and several other things. At the moment, I'm going to focus on the writing part.

One of the things I'm having the most difficulty with right now is my lack of perceived production. In 2009 and 2010 I wrote one novel and seventeen or eighteen short stories, not to mention maintained a daily blog at the time as well. My fingers seemed to be constantly flying over the keyboard, and the ideas and scenes fell like rain from heaven into my running imagination.

Now things are different. This summer I have both children home with me all day, and it is almost impossible to maintain a writing frame of mind for a few minutes before it is disrupted by a demand for food, entertainment, or some other form of attention. And of course, when you are trying to focus on something and it is constantly interrupted, the blood pressure begins to rise.

So I pretty much gave up for a while, in order to preserve my sanity. I still write a little here and there, and some progress has been made, but to a guy with the former pace of production I had it is pretty aggravating. I currently have one novel at 80,000 words and another at 40,000 words. I'm kind of jumping back and forth between them, to see if that will freshen the muse a little bit. It did result in me finding out how to integrate and keep one potention scene in Argiope. That scene is now in the book, and it works.

So things ARE getting done, but a lot of it is cerebral at the moment.

Also, I discovered a weak point of mine when it comes to writing and I'm now focusing on that as well. Unlike short stories and novellas, a novel tends to have a different form of pacing. It doesn't just stay at the same high pace a short story can. It eventually runs into a place where the pace slows down for a while and the characters regroup. I came to realize I was stalled at that spot in both stories. So now I'm going to do a little reading to see how other writers actually handle that, and then find a way to make that a strong point for me as well.

So that's where I am.

I also have several non writing projects going on this summer, and  they are taking some of my mental cpu cycles as well. I adopted them to help me maintain that sense of progress while still doing right by the kids, and it seems to be working.

Happy Weekend, folks.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Bah! Technology! It's Plotting Against Us!


So I had taken little fifteen second clips during the course of our weekend in Galveston in order to splice them together and make a youtube video. That was going to be the feature of my Weds blog, but it wasn't to be.

First, Windows Moviemaker doesn't like MP4's. Then I discovered that my old version of Corel Video Editor considers the format invalid as well. Then I discovered that since I had changed the names of the video files, that my video camera wouldn't splice them together itself. So it looks like everybody is going to get spared the horror of a mini-vacation movie for now.

Bah!

Oh well, I guess it just wasn't meant to be.

But just wait...next month we will go on a full vacation and by that time I will have figured out what went wrong and then...oh yes, and then...there will be vacation video goodness for the masses!

BWAAAHAHAHA!!!!

Sigh.

Monday, July 11, 2011

I'm Tired



We did a trial run of our vacation this past weekend, and took the kids to Galveston and the Moody Gardens pyramids and water park. It was very informative and I will be sure and adapt what I learned so I will be ready come vacation in August.

I learned I will need to better pad my left foot so the new brace doesn't hurt it.
I learned that while Rowan has come a long way, letting her walk without holding her hand is just asking to see her disappear in the distance.
I learned that eating low carb and gluten free can be difficult at water parks.
I learned that Days Inn in Galveston has decent rooms but their bathtubs are going to kill somebody. (we won't be staying there during vacation though)
I learned I will need to bring my own Stevia and Zevia with me since I now consider aspartame to be evil.

I know I'm tired, and the kiddos will be up bright and early in the morning and expecting me to entertain them.

Sorry for the short post folks.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Rowan Makes New Friends


Rowan had no therapy scheduled at Learning Lane this week, so I thought it might be nice to let her go where Sheridan and I always go while she's in school. So I packed up some lunch and drinks and it was off to North Shore Park to meet the ducks.

Rowan was delighted.

She got a thrill out of tossing popcorn to the ducks.


But she felt the process was inefficient and decided to take matters into her own hands. Needless to say, the ducks were very impressed with her solution to the problem.


On another note, I have not given up on writing...but I am going very slow. I am just overwhelmed with the house and kids this summer, and can't devote much time or thought processes to it. I'm currently outlining my way forward on some projects. I'm really just creeping along, but stuff IS getting done.

And on that note, the dryer just buzzed and announced it's time to move all the different loads of laundry down to their next station. Sigh, my Man Card is as good as revoked.

Bye.